Two Drew University Students Named Rising Stars by N.J. Business & Industry Association

Chekwube Okunowo C’24 and Kareena Salvi C’23 recognized for their passion, dedication

September 2022 – Two Drew University students have won Rising Star Awards from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA).

Chekwube Okunowo C’24 and Kareena Salvi C’23 were two of the five college students chosen by the NJBIA for having “demonstrated a passion for their career path, academic success, and a commitment to volunteering in their communities during their undergraduate careers,” per NJBIA.

The students were honored in person earlier this month at the 8th Annual New Jersey Women Business Leaders Forum in Atlantic City.

“This award is extremely special to me because it has shown me that my work and contributions in the Drew community, the U.S. community, and even in my Nigerian community are being seen and acknowledged,” said Okunowo, an international relations major and economics and law, justice, and society double minor.

“This recognition demonstrates the strong will that I was raised with and stands as an example of not giving up on your dreams and ambitions for the future,” added Salvi, a political science major and Spanish, dance, and law, justice, and society triple minor. “Receiving this award helped me look back at that true inner spark that ignites whenever I pursue my passions in advocating for underrepresented voices.”

Both students reflected on how Drew has prepared them for their futures where, not surprisingly, both are looking to be leaders and changemakers.

Okunowo plans on pursuing a foreign service career after earning either a law degree or masters in foreign service and gaining experience working with NGOs and human rights advocacy groups. She has leaned on Drew’s New York Semester on the United Nations as a launchpad.

“The UN program is one of the opportunities equipping me with the transferable skills and knowledge necessary to make my goals a reality,” she said. “I have already learned a great deal about the UN and foreign service world from Carlos Yordan [associate professor of international relations and director of the New York Semester on the United Nations] and guest speakers, including diplomats.”

She added, “Drew—through classes, organizations, professors, and community—has provided so many opportunities as an institution that have helped me grow and learn. Through this opportunity with NJBIA, I hope to meet a network of amazing leaders that will help me further along the path to achieving my personal, academic, and professional goals.”

Salvi plans to pursue a masters and PhD in political science, focusing on racial politics in the U.S. Afterward, she hopes to work for an NGO or a civil/human rights advocacy group similar to that of the Sikh Coalition.

“My Drew experience helped elevate me towards my goals through programs like the UN semester and the Barcelona shortTREC,” she said.

“Having also been president of the student government and serving on the Racial Justice and Diversity and Inclusion Committee – all of these experiences helped push me into the spaces and networks that helped steer me toward my ambitions. The Drew experience provided me with opportunities and spaces for me to finally make decisions about my future and create a path for the Kareena that I wanted to define, become, and look up to.”

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